Pope Francis’ new secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, is returning to Rome after his medical discharge last Friday.
“I hope to be prepared [for my new role],” said Archbishop Parolin, as reported by the Italian news agency ANSA. “One prepares the most he can because it was a great surprise the Pope gave me with this appointment, so I need to enter a bit in this role.”
The 58-year-old archbishop did add, however, that “on the other hand, I have a certain experience. I worked for years in the Secretariat of State before going to Venezuela.”
In 1992, he entered the Second Section of the State Secretariat. In 2000 he moved to the Italian Section on military chaplaincies and religious assistance in prisons and hospitals. In 2002 he was appointed under-secretary of the State Secretariat’s Section for Relations with States, a post he held until 2009 when he was appointed Nuncio in Venezuela.
The Secretariat of State is expected to change its name to Papal Secretariat. And it is not just a question of a name, as Bishop Marcello Semeraro clarified a few days ago. Bishop Semeraro is the secretary of the council of eight cardinals appointed by Francis for the reform of the Curia.
Monsignor Semeraro explained that “today the term Secretariat of State can be misunderstood; it has a ‘political’ connotation. An effort is being made to highlight more the ecclesial dimension of the Secretariat, its role of support to the Pope’s functions as Bishop of Rome and head of the universal Church.”
This was also indicated by Chilean Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz, one of the cardinals of the council, in a statement to the Argentine edition of the “Vida Nueva” review.
The issue was also explained a few weeks ago by Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, who said that the word “state” can create misunderstanding. In fact, it is the Pope’s secretariat for his service of government of the universal Church.